Thousands of bikers from across the country traveled to Lancaster County this weekend. They were all wearing yellow, which is 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos’ favorite color. The Amish teenager has been missing for more than a month.
“I’ve been praying for this family and this girl since it started,” one of the bikers, 79-year-old Gary Stermer said.
A local man named Brendan Veale was behind the effort:
“[It is] just frightening, frightening for the area,” organizer Brendan Veale said.
Veale explained that he grew up with Amish friends, and he is still involved in the Amish community. So when he heard what happened to Linda, he was heartbroken.
“It hit home, close to home for us,” Veale said. “My heart dropped; it’s very sad, that’s why we’re here.”
In a matter of two weeks, he organized this prayer ride for Linda and her family, but at the time, he had no idea it would touch this many people.
“Seeing all these people come in it just gives me the chills,” Veale said. “As bikers this is how we show our support we ride.”
Linda’s story has moved people across the country:
One of the many bikers, Mike Nolasco, said he and his wife rode here all the way from California. “We just really feel for the Stoltzfoos family and we extend our prayers,” Nolasco said.
While many of these people may be from different parts of the country, and in some cases, different walks of life, their prayers for Linda have brought them all together.
“I might be the person that is from the furthest away but our hearts are all in the same place,” Nolasco said.
Another rider re-routed from Alabama “to make sure we were here for this event.”
Linda’s story is sad and disturbing. Finding Linda alive is still possible, however unlikely. But if we want to take one good thing out of it, it is how it has brought people together.
Another rider in the video below said: “we support the Amish community, we realize this really isn’t their way, but we also are trying to be incredibly respectful of them.”
The man is right that motorcycle rides are not the Amish way of doing things. But I think it’s a safe bet that Linda’s family and the community appreciate the sentiment behind this ride.
This response, and other examples including, but not limited to, the efforts of searchers, law enforcement and authorities, and those regularly gathering for prayer and song shows us again the value of a strong and mutually supportive community.
If you’d like to send a letter to Linda’s family, you’ll find how to do that here. If you have info pertinent to this case, please contact East Lampeter Township Police at 717-291-4676 or Pennsylvania State Police at 717-299-7650.